I'm looking for the most convenient way to travel from St Pancras to the Isle of Wight, by public transport. By convenient I mean the least number of changes. Subways and trains are preferred over buses, helicopters and planes don't count ;-).

Google Maps shows a few options, but they all seem to include at least two changes in London. So far, I think my best bet is to take the Victoria line to Vauxhall, then a train and a ferry. Although it includes a walk to King's Cross.

I'll be arriving by Eurostar, so a connection from either Ebbsfleet or Ashford would probably be fine too. But from what I can see now, everything is going through London anyway.

If it matters, I'll be traveling on a Sunday.

  • 17
    Walking to Kings Cross from St. Pancras almost doesn't count - they are right across the road.
    – Gremlin
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 15:55
  • 5
    I believe you may even be able to walk between them without going outside.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 18:03
  • 3
    Indeed, right outside the customs hall at St. Pancras, signs toward "Underground" lead directly to the western ticket hall at Kings Cross St Pancras tube station. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 18:35
  • 4
    You can think of St. Pancras and Kings Cross as essentially being different sections of one station.
    – JBentley
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 12:27
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    @JBentley indeed - the Underground station is called "King's Cross St. Pancras"
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 14:30

5 Answers 5


As far as I remember to get to Isle of Wight you need to get a ferry from either Portsmouth (shorter route) or Southampton. To get there from London you need to take a train from Waterloo station (or some of the following stations). And indeed there is no direct connection from St. Pancras to Waterloo. And the quickest way is probably to take Victoria line to Green Park and Jubilee to Waterloo.

You can try to optimize to take a train from Vauxhall if you mange to find one that stops there, but I believe most (fast trains at least) don't. Also, remember that in case of any delays and cancellations (errm, yes, they do happen in London) you will have more options from Waterloo.

So to sum up.

  1. Victoria line to Green Park
  2. Jubilee line to Waterloo
  3. Train to Portsmouth
  4. Ferry to Isle of Wight - the ferry leaves from the end of the train platform.
  • (1) It looks like there are some trains to Portsmouth from Victoria station as well as Waterloo, which would save one change on the Tube. (2) Another place to catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight is from Lymington, but it takes you to Yarmouth on the other side of the island, which may or may not be what you want. Anyway, trains to Lymington go from Waterloo and require a change at Brockenhurst. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 14:37
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    Changing at Oxford Circus to Bakerloo is much easier - step free cross platform, Green Park is a faff
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 15:18
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    @NateEldredge: While there are trains from Victoria that end at Portsmouth, they go the long way around via Gatwick and Horsham -- it would take a quite unusual routing for a train from Victoria to end up on the main line through Woking (even though the tracks are right next to each other at Clapham Junction). Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 18:01
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    @HenningMakholm: Good point. Indeed, Victoria to Portsmouth is anywhere from 20-45 minutes longer than Waterloo to Portsmouth. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 19:52
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    @OrangeDog, this is the wrong branch of Northern Line. There are no direct trains to Waterloo, and it would take longer than the other options.
    – Grzenio
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 14:27

There are three main ferry routes to the Isle of Wight: Portsmouth-Ryde, Lymington-Yarmouth and Southampton-Cowes. Depending on where you want to go on the Island, that may be your biggest decider

For all 3, you need to get to London Waterloo station to take the train. That isn't actually too bad though. From St Pancras, follow the signs to the underground (there are lifts and escalators available). Take the Victoria Line (light blue on maps) to Oxford Circus, and try to be towards the front of the train. Follow the signs to the adjacent platform for Bakerloo Line Southbound (brown on maps) to Waterloo. It's a step-free change, and can be done in under 30 seconds if you're towards the front of the train and level with the tunnel linking the two southbound platforms.

Then, take a train to where you want to take the ferry.

For the Southampton-Cowes route, there's a free shuttle bus from Southampton Station to the Red Funnel ferry terminal, and you can buy a through ticket from London to Cowes including the ferry. Red Funnel have page covering the public transport options.

For the Lymington-Yarmouth route, you take a fast train to Brockenhurst, do a step-free cross-platform change to the Lymington train, then the ferry goes from the pier terminal pretty much next to the station. There's info on the Wightlink page, click to expand their Public Transport section to see it all.

Otherwise, look at the Island Line promotions page for details of some of the offers and deals for the through train-ferry tickets. (Island Line is the name of the train operator on the island)

  • 1
    Agree that your destination on the IOW is the important factor: public transport on the Island is not great. The Lymington route involves changing trains, but it's very easy and is less far from train to ferry, so there's very little in it. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 15:27
  • @Gagravarr Good point, I'll keep it in mind when I've decided where exactly I'm going first.
    – Berend
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 8:43
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    If you fancy a walk from Southampton Central to the Red Funnel terminal its about a mile and takes you though the city centre where there are plenty of remnants of medieval Southampton to see.
    – Gusdor
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 8:49
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    OP here. Just returned from IOW, and can confirm that this answer works perfect for getting to Cowes (east or west). Buy a train ticket at Waterloo, this includes both the shuttle bus (otherwise ₤1), and the ferry. The bus is called Quay Connect, and stops just outside the exit of Southampton Central station. Being in the rear of the train may save a walk along the platform :-)
    – Berend
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 10:32

Following on from Grzenio's answer

From Portsmouth there are 3 ways to get to the Isle of Wight, the easiest is the WightLink FastCat, the terminal for this is at the end of the platform at Portsmouth Harbour station where most Portsmouth bound trains terminate. This goes to Ryde Pier and takes around 22 minutes.

There is also a WightLink car ferry that goes to Fishbourne, this is around a 10 minute walk from Portsmouth Harbour station.


Its a little harder to get to but there is also a hover craft that goes from Southsea to Ryde, this is about a 30 minute walk from Portsmouth Harbour station or there are buses that go from the bus station outside Portsmouth Harbour station, I only mention it as the only passenger hovercraft in Europe so it a bit of a rarity.


If you go to Southampton the Red Funnel car ferry and fast cat both go from Town Pier, and there was last time I used it a free shuttle bus between the station and the pier, and both go to Cowes.


Looks like the shuttle bus is free if you have a Red Funnel ticket (or through train ticket), and £1 per journey per person if you don't, and runs every 30 minutes on a Sunday.


  • 4
    +1 for the hoovercraft. I took the one between the UK and France when it still ran and I am still glad I took the opportunity.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 16:12

If you're strictly seeking to minimise the number of changes at the expense of flexibility, and the ferry options from Portsmouth detailed elsewhere sound most suitable, then you can do it without using the tube at all - St Pancras to East Croydon (or Gatwick Airport), and then from there on to Portsmouth. This will be somewhat slower than going via Waterloo - a touch under 3 hours, with trains only every hour.

Only caveat is that the St Pancras to East Croydon route is often closed for engineering works at weekends - but you can check for your dates using the National Rail website. Search from St Pancras to Portsmouth, and put in the "More options, railcards & passengers" section that you want to travel via "Elephant and Castle". If nothing with a single change comes up, then the rail line through London is probably closed that day.


It depends heavily on where on the Isle of Wight you are trying to get to. Public transport on the island is relatively slow so it may be better to spend a bit longer on the mainland to arrive in the right place on the island.

With all of the routes from London your first job is to get to Waterloo or Victoria. Unfortunately there is no direct tube line to Waterloo, so you will have to change somewhere in London on that route. For Victoria you could get the circle line all the way but I expect it would be quicker to change (the Circle line is a pretty slow way of getting aroud)

If your aim is to be on the island as quickly as possible your best option is probably Waterloo -> Portsmouth Harbour -> Ryde Pier Head on the Wightlink catamaran. Other options in a similar area are the Hovertravel hovercraft from Southsea hoverport and the Wightlink car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne but they don't connect as nearly with the trains in Portsmouth. IIRC there is a bus from Portsmouth and Southsea station to Southsea hoverport, I'm not sure what the situation is with the Fishbourne ferry.

For Cowes you would instead get a train to Southampton and take the Red Funnel or Red Jet services. I'm not sure exactly what the connecting arrangements are there.

For Yarmouth you would get a train to Brockenhurst, then a train to Lymington Pier and then the ferry to Yarmouth. IIRC the ferry terminal in Lymington is pretty close to Lymington Pier station.

P.S. Technically it's possible to get from Ashford to Portsmouth harbour without going via London but the routes are pretty slow. The planner is giving me routes either via Hastings and Brighton or via Tonbridge and East Croydon.

  • 1
    There is a bus (free if you have a through ticket) from Southampton Central station to the ferry terminal, and Lymington Pier station is at the ferry terminal, so it's a direct change
    – Nick C
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 10:29

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